Protest March – Washington Square Park to Trump Tower via 6th Avenue – November 11, 2016. Photo by Anthony Albright via Wikimedia Commons/ CC 2.0
Contributor’s Note: Throughout the article, the ‘Hispanic’ identity is used to refer to the Latinx community strictly because that is how the US census recognizes Latinx people and how the FBI documents hate crimes against Latinx folks. FEM recognizes the colonial ties to Spain and wants to clarify and validate the Latinx identity.
We are officially over a year into ‘Trump’s America’ and a majority of Americans feel as if this now is the worst time in U.S history. Hate crimes have risen, and many hate groups have become more present, but is it right to label this point in time as the worst in U.S history?
Perhaps folks have forgotten that America resides on stolen land and depends on forced labor. Perhaps 45th’s first year in office seems extremely violent due to the hyper-visibility of hate groups such as the Charlottesville Nazi march in August and the rise in hate crimes.
Hate crimes are defined by the FBI as offenses motivated in part or singularly by personal prejudice against others because of diversity—race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity/national origin, or disability.
Crimes that fall under the umbrella term “hate crime” include aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, vandalism, and murder. With vandalism making up the largest percentage of hate crime at about 35% and aggravated assault and simple assault making up the second largest percentage at 30% of hate crimes committed against certain groups.
It is imperative to note that these statistics are based on reported crimes. There are thousands of hate crimes that go unreported every year due to fear of consequences that victims might face. For example, some undocumented folks fear deportation if they report assaults against them. In addition, Black folks are less likely to call the police for help due to a history of violent interactions with the police.
There are also certain hate crimes that are not taken into account within these statistics, though they fit the FBI definition. These acts of violence, typically against marginalized groups, are state sanctioned and legal. Deportations are legalized hate crimes committed against the undocumented community by the State. Murder by police is another hate crime committed against members of the Black community in which Police Officers are often acquitted for or even paid leave.
Analyzing the difference in the number of reported hate crimes under three different presidential eras can put in perspective just how common hate crimes and violence have been in America.
Starting with the beginning of the Bush administration, according to hate crime statistics reported by the FBI, there were over 5,397 total reported victims of racially motivated hate crimes in the year 2000. Of these reported hate crimes, were 3,500 victims of anti-Black hate crimes, 763 victims of anti-Hispanic hate crimes, 339 victims of anti-Asian/Pacific Islander hate crimes, and 64 victims of Anti-Native hate crimes. There were also reported over 1,500 victims of hate crimes against queer folks. And a reported 36 victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes
Under the Obama administration, there were a total of 3,227 racially motivated hate crimes, a decrease of over 2,000 hate crimes in comparison to the beginning of Bush’s presidency. 2,023 of these hate crimes were victims anti-Black hate crimes, 433 victims of anti-Hispanic hate crimes, 200 victims of anti-Asian/Pacific islander crimes, 148 victims of anti-Native hate crimes. There were reported over 1,200 victims of anti-queer hate crimes, and a reported 183 anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Finally, in 2016, the beginning of the Trump era, there were a total of 4,426 victims of racially motivated hate crimes, an increase of over 1,000 hate crimes since 2014. 2,222 of these were anti-Black hate crimes, 487 anti-Hispanic hate crimes, 168 victims of anti-Native crimes, and 137 anti-Asian crimes reported. There were over 1500 anti-queer hate crimes in 2016. And a reported 388 victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes.
It is undeniable that the number of reported hate crimes has increased during the first year of Trump’s presidency in comparison to the end of Obama’s presidency. However, the number of hate crimes committed during this time has yet to surpass the number of hate crimes committed against marginalized groups during the beginning of the Bush era. It is important to stop referring to Trump’s America as the worst time in American history because it is not, contrary to what the majority of Americans feel.
It’s important to recognize the constant state of violence that America perpetuates merely by existing on stolen land and thriving on forced labor. Recognize the violence that came before Trump and the kinds of violence that are going to persist as long as America remains a white supremacist, capitalist, settler colonial state. There are more years of Trump to come. Perhaps an even scarier idea is that there are other forms of Trump manifesting as you finish this article.